Salads are the stuff of my life at work and at home. So much so that at times I forget which kitchen I am in! I’m surprised at what I find or more often don’t don’t find in the kitchen I am in. In the confusion of what has been done or brought for which kitchen, there is sometimes a creative disjunct and the great ideas and foods that get created are in the rush of life forgotten. To create a trail of recipes, ideas and memories was always one of the reasons for creating this blog, for myself to remember what I spend my time doing, and to share these ideas with people I care about. So sometimes a simple (ish) comfort salad like this deserves a place in these memories as a reminder of meals I have made and want to share.
This is a hearty and delicious, comforting salad that can be a meal in itself, or served as part of a selection with your main meal. Once cold you could extend it a little by tossing through a bag of baby lettuce leaves or mesculin before drizzling with your favourite balsamic vinegar.
Some ideas are so simple they hardly seem worth writing about, but it is sometimes these simple things in my pantry that take a meal from ho-hum to delicious. I hate food waste and to be able to toast up stale bread ends, and scraps of parsley hidden in unexpected parts of my garden, ticks the sustainability boxes, and to then add some of the preserved-lemons made a few weeks ago and capers from the fridge – this makes me happy. These crunchy croutons are a great quick fix for leftover bread and, as well as being great over most salads they also work really well sprinkled over fish, chicken and pasta meals. Meals where you almost but not quite want parmesan cheese, use them – tossed over a clam or seafood pasta, or chicken roasted with olives, artichokes and peppers…. delicious.
I originally wasn’t going to add the almonds as well – but actually – I wanted this salad to be delicious – and at the last minute decided for the full delicious factor I wanted them. Gilding the lily maybe, but it did taste good! Almonds work well in any number of salads, or even as a simple snack with a glass of wine. Once roasted they keep well on the shelf for a couple of weeks, so can be made any time you have the oven on, and then snacked on or saved for those moments when something you are cooking needs that extra zing and crunch. These are simply roasted with a generous amount of sumac – a lemony middle eastern spice and a little thyme salt and olive oil, but could easily be replaced with another favourite of mine where I roast with harissa and thyme.
CRUNCHY ROAST CAULIFLOWER SALAD – served hot, warm or cold
Serves four as a generous side to a main meal
Pre heat oven to 180’c – 200’c
- 1 cauliflower
- Several stalks of kale
- Optional – 1 leek or an onion finely sliced
- Approx. 2 cups worth of raggedy stale bread crumbs
- Bunch of flat leaf parsley
- 1/2 preserved lemon
- 1/2 cup capers
- Olive oil
- 1/2 cup raw almonds (or your favourite toasted almonds)
- 1 tsp sumac or harissa
- 1/4 tsp dry thyme
- Balsamic vinegar to finish
- Place your list items here
Start with your croutons, I like to tear the bread into smallish raggedy pieces onto a lined baking tray, allowing all the crumbs to stay in the mix. Add your capers, a good pinch of salt and anoint with enough olive oil to coat the crumbs. Put these in the oven, to start cooking.
As the croutons start to cook finely chop your lemon zest and roughly chop your parsley.
Once the crumbs are starting to brown and crisp add the lemon zest and the stalkier parts of the parsley for the final few minutes. Save the leaves of the parsley to finish off with the roasting cauliflower.
Roughly chop your almonds and toss with sumac (or harissa) thyme and olive oil and put on a seperate lined tray to roast in the oven with the crumbs. Check these often or once again use a timer as nuts love to burn.
By keeping crumbs and almonds seperate, you can then use what you need for this salad and if you have some left – or choose to make a larger amount, you will have some to dress up a meal another day.
Meanwhile on another lined baking tray put your chopped cauliflower, add a good pinch of salt and toss well with a glug of olive oil. Put this in the oven to start roasting (use the timer if you like) for approx. ten minutes.
Chop your kale and leak or onion ( if using) and after the cauliflower has had its initial ten minutes you can add these and the remaining parsley to the pan. Toss this all together again, and put back in the oven to cook until the cauliflower is beginning to brown on the edges and exposed pieces of kale are getting crisp.
At this point you can assemble your salad, piling it all into a serving bowl and topping with croutons and almonds. You can choose to either eat immediately or putting aside until later. Although you loose the crunch of the kale if you wait it is still delicious later or even the next day. Simply drizzle a little balsamic vinegar over at the last minute to add a salady zing
My pictures today may not do this salad justice, but regardless you should take my word and give it a try, share it – or not – and it will comfort you at the end of a busy day or for a lovely lunch, and make life feel good.